When the series finale of Star Trek: Picard began, our crew were at the stations on their old ship ready to take on the Borg. Well, everyone apart from Crusher who just stood there like Tawny Madison in Galaxy Quest. All of Starfleet has been assimilated and Picard’s son is the voice of the Borg, sending a signal from the Queen to control every human under 25. How can we resolve all of this in just an hour? Turns out you can do it much quicker than that and then move onto a bunch of indulgent codas.
The mission objectives are threefold. Riker and Worf must find the tech Maguffin on the Borg cube that’s amplifying Jack’s mind control signal. Picard must find Jack and save him. Then the Enterprise must fly in, destroy the Maguffin and try not to get everyone killed. Meanwhile on the Titan, Seven and Raffi have to fly around Earth so they have something to do this week.
When you do something massive, like making everyone under 25 in Stafleet a Borg, and only have an episode to resolve it, can it ever be satisfying? It brings to mind a Russell T Davies Doctor Who episode in many ways. Something like the David Tennant specials where every human got turned into the Master. Where do you go from there? I suppose the actual reference here would be Avengers: Infinity War where it looks like the bad guys have won and killed everyone. It is massive, and it’s actually too big as a plot. The stakes are too big to comprehend. It’s silly.
‘Actually can I stop you there?’
Who is this?
‘I’m the voice of fandom.’
Oh, please get out of my review.
‘No, you see the thing is. Actually, it’s not about everyone becoming a Borg. You’re just looking at it from a plot point of view.’
Yeah, I do like those to make sense.
‘It’s actually about the characters and personal stakes. The whole of Earth being taken over by Borg doesn’t matter.’
‘The whole point of this season is for Picard to tell his son that he loves him. So we need to get him into a place where he’s so vulnerable.’
And millions of people die unseen?
‘Yeah… because it’s about characters and emotional drama and you just don’t care about the feelings.’
Isn’t this basically the same as the Buffy season 6 finale where Xander tells Dark Willow that he loves her to stop her murdering everyone?
‘I don’t know. I have no outside references. I just love all Star Trek without question. Did you like it when Chekov did a voiceover?’
You can go now.
And sure, it is about the big emotional payoff. The sins of the past affect the present. Picard’s demons, the Borg in this instance, bring trauma to his son. It’s all a big metaphor. But it’s not a great metaphor. It’s not like Star Trek of old telling us that racism and nuclear war were bad. This is just for a big moment. And that big moment is remarkably similar to the final act of the much-derided The Rise of Skywalker. Here we have the Borg Queen, barely alive, being held up by big black ropes and being all arch and controlling like a creepy puppet. Honestly, that’s quite good fun, but it all feels a little too late having spent eight episodes pretending this wasn’t a Borg story. Jack’s choice should have been more difficult. He should have felt conflict. Instead he just feels passive. The writing just wasn’t there for the character. He was a mystery box wrapped in an enigma.
And while we’re talking about that. Jack’s whole arc, feeling different and then finding a home within the Borg was literally done last season with Agnes. These three seasons have been so disconnected, and yet covering much of the same ground, it’s almost funny. But it’s also somewhat annoying.
They brought back the Enterprise-D in the previous episode. And it is lovely to see the old crew at their old stations again. It feels right. But there’s also an element of why bother? Geordi, Troi, Data and Crusher stay on board and Data flies the ship into a giant Borg cube through a maze like a computer game in order to reach the centre. It’s fun enough but it’s all so fleeting. It doesn’t feel like there’s much gap between that and it getting put away in a shed again. Still, I’m glad that bridge existed again for awhile. I love that ship. It’s almost sad at the end to be back on a starship with no lights.
Anyway, back the big battle. The Titan uses its cloak and some technobabble to fight in one of those awful battles modern Star Trek does. Remember the season 2 finale of Discovery where there’s just an impossible amount of weapons and explosions and you have no idea what’s going on? Yeah, it’s like that but with Spacedock. It’s definitely not Star Wars; it’s not even Deep Space Nine.
Anyway, nobody dies, everyone is rescued thanks to Troi using her powers and piloting skills for good, and all traces of the Borg explode in a big explosion. Then we cut to more endings than The Return of the King,
There’s the The Voyage Home ending with the reveal of a new Enterprise, and Seven not being court-martialled, but instead promoted. And it’s nice to see Tuvok again.
There’s the comedy Data ending where he has a therapy session while Troi books a holiday. Hilarious. Hey, I wonder if he wants to meet his daughter?
There’s the setting up a new show ending with a new crew of the Enterprise. Captain Seven is a great idea. But neither Raffi or Jack are characters we need to spend any more time with. What a shame Shaw is dead.
There’s the let’s stand and reminisce on the bridge of the Enterprise-D like at the end of Generations.
Then there’s chatting in a bar and playing poker. Remember poker?
Then there’s the stupidest post-credits scene in the world. I’m not sure why it’s even there, but it also undoes much of season 2 and that’s a blessing.
Anyway, was it a success? I don’t know. Is it a better ending than Nemesis? Yeah, I think it probably is on balance. I liked seeing old faces, it definitely made me feel something, which is rare. For the most part, I actually enjoyed it. Maybe things don’t have to be meaningful any more than just enjoying them at the time. But it was a mess, in terms of pacing and often in terms of content. Both rushed and took too long to get where it was going.
There was a brief window where it felt like something bad might happen, that perhaps Riker or Picard would have to make the supreme sacrifice. But it was never about that, not really. The whole series was an excuse to get to that moment in episode 9. The whole goal was to bring back all of the crew from Star Trek: The Next Generation and show them standing no the bridge of the Enterprise-D. It’s not a reunion but a build up to one. A long-term project to reset the status quo for a fleeting moment. And if that was the goal, it was a rousing success.
Someone once told me that time was a predator that stalked us all our lives. But I rather believe that time is a companion who goes with us on the journey and reminds us to cherish every moment because they’ll never come again… unless you get put in charge of a massive franchise and you get just rewrite the past as you like, undo deaths and relive the greatest moments in a new way. And honestly, why not?